Weir, John

Weir, John [Вивюрський, Іван; Vyvjurs'kyj, Ivan; pseudonyms: Ivan Fedorovych, Davis, A. Brock, Frank Evans, Frank Brant], b 23 October 1906 in Broad Valley, Manitoba, d 23 November 1983 in Toronto. Journalist, publicist, translator, and community leader. Born in rural Manitoba to a Polish/Ukrainian family who were recent emigrants from Galicia, Weir first moved with his family to the Fraser Valley in British Columbia and then to Ontario. He joined the Young Communist League (YCL) in 1924 and became member of its National Executive Council in 1927. In 1927, he joined the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). He began his journalistic career under Myroslav Irchan who edited the Ukrainian-language periodical Svit molodi in 1927–9 in Winnipeg. Between 1928 and 1930, Weir attended the Lenin School in Moscow. He moved to Calgary in 1932 and in 1933, became an activist organizing the unemployed in Montreal. He was elected to the CPC Central Committee in 1934 and to the CPC National Executive in 1937. After returning to Toronto, he edited The Worker (1935–6) and The Daily Clarion (1936–9) and was an organizer of the Toronto Labor College. He became secretary of the Toronto (Commercial) Artists’ Union and was elected for two terms to the Toronto Board of Education in 1937. At the end of 1939, he became editor of The Western Clarion and moved to Winnipeg.

After the CPC was banned in 1940, Weir was arrested and interned in the camp at Kananaskis, Alberta and later at the Hull Jail (Gatineau, Quebec). Following his release in September 1942, he resumed his political activities and in 1943, joined the national executive of the Artists’, Writers’ and Broadcasters’ War Council. He worked for The Canadian Tribune (1943–6) and became the first editor of The Ukrainian Canadian (1947–54) and a member of the editorial board of Ukraïns’ke zhyttia (Winnipeg) (1954–8). He wrote a 26-part series ‘Notes on Canadian History’ in The Ukrainian Canadian between 1949 and 1951. Weir was involved in electoral politics and stood as candidate from the Labor-Progressive Party in the 1945 and 1957 federal elections and in the 1959 provincial elections; and as the CPC candidate in the 1972 federal elections. As national secretary of the Canadian Slav Committee in 1958–61, he attended the Fourth World Congress of Slavists in Moscow in 1958. He served on the National Executive Committee of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians in 1961–64 and 1974–83, and was also member of the CPC Central Committee. He continued to work as a union activist and worked as business agent for the Artists Union in Toronto. He served on the National Committee of the Canadian-Soviet Friendship Society.

Weir was a staff member of The Canadian Tribune and in 1962, he visited Moscow as this paper’s correspondent. During that period, he also wrote articles critical of the Canadian federal government that were published in the Soviet press. In 1967–9, he was head of a team of translators working on the English volume of Ukraïns'ka radians'ka entsyklopediia. He was also involved in Kyiv with the production of the bi-lingual periodical News from Ukraine. Having returned to Canada in 1969 after eight years in the USSR, he worked as production manager at Canadian Tribune and was its editor from 1972 to 1973. In 1973, he began to research and write a history of the Communist Party of Canada. From 1974, he was the Moscow correspondent of The Canadian Tribune and The Ukrainian Canadian and became a citizen of the USSR and member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Weir continued to work in Kyiv as a translator and author. He wrote poetry, short stories, and literary criticism in Ukrainian and translated into English numerous works by Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Lesia Ukrainka, Vasyl Stefanyk, and other Ukrainian authors. His translations were published in Moscow, Kyiv and Toronto.

Myron Momryk

[This article was updated in 2022.]

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